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'Spats of hate': Israeli Ambassador and Alan Shatter criticise TDs during committee meeting

Ambassador Ophir Kariv labelled the contributions as “totally destructive”.

Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Ophir Kariv.
Israeli Ambassador to Ireland Ophir Kariv.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

THE ISRAELI AMBASSADOR to Ireland has hit out at what he labelled as “spats of hate” during a meeting of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee this morning. 

Ambassador Ophir Kariv labelled the contributions as “totally destructive” but said that Ireland in general can contribute to peace in the region in several ways. 

He said that, while he wished to “be careful” in drawing parallels between Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Irish history, people in Ireland should be aware of the importance “listening to both sides”.  

Former justice minister Alan Shatter was also speaking before the committee as a supporter of the Ireland-Israel Alliance and as chairman of Magen David Adom Ireland, which supports the emergency services in Israel. 

Meanwhile, in the Dáil, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said said the government is committed to a “two-state solution in the middle east”. 

He said he abhors Hamas and what is being done in terms of terror and the violation of human rights against women and particularly LGBT communities.

He said he wouldn’t want any comments to be misconstrued as support for Hamas in anyway.

However, he added that the actions of the Israeli government are “indefensible”.

The annexation, expulsion and killing of civilians “deliberately or in terms of collateral damage is not the behaviour of a democratic state in the 21st century”, he said. 

The Irish government will use its position “as best we can to try and get a common UN position on this, which is never easy”, he added. Ireland will also try and coordinate and advance further action at EU level.

Today’s committee meeting was held to examine forced displacements and demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory and comes amid serious violence in the region.  

Israeli forces have carried out air strikes killing and injuring civilians in Gaza while militants in the enclave have fired hundreds of rockets towards civilian areas in Israel. 

In Gaza, 83 people were reported killed since Monday — including 17 children — and more than 480 people were wounded. 

In southern Israel, seven people have been killed, including one six-year-old

Earlier this week, Minister for Foreign Affairs Minister Coveney summoned Ambassador Kariv to a meeting, telling him that the loss of life in Gaza due to Israeli air strikes was “completely unacceptable”. 

In response, Ireland’s Ambassador to Israel Kyle O’Sullivan was summoned to the Israeli foreign office yesterday

Speaking before the committee, Kariv said that Ireland can contribute to peace efforts by engaging in humanitarian efforts in Gaza but also by acknowledging that the conflict is complex. 

He said that said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “is one with many dimensions ” including “national, geographical, historical, and sometimes even religious”. 

“Ireland knows, and Irish people know all too well, what is the meaning of such complex and sensitive conflict.  It’s true, these are different stories. The conflicts are not identical. But I think the main points are about knowing how to listen to both sides,” Kariv said. 

He added: 

I’ll be very careful in drawing parallels between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Irish history and the conflict on the island of Ireland. But I think that one rule we can draw very confidently is the complexity and that anyone who approaches this kind of conflict must bear in mind things are not simple, things are not black and white.

Kariv also criticised some of the contributions made during the meeting, saying they were “totally destructive” 

“We’ve had some, I’m sorry for the wording but spats of hate, which I do not know where they’re going, what they what they need to achieve what they aspire to achieve,” he said. 

Several committee members spoke out against Israel’s actions against Palestinians in Gaza today and throughout history. 

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon said that Israel can be seen to have “provoked the situation” by “removing people from land they’ve held”. 

He also questioned Israel’s “rules of engagement” for bombing “densely populated zones such as Gaza where over 2 million people live”. 

“If a Hamas militant is in a building does that make the building an automatic and legitimate tag in Gaza,” he said. 

Sinn Féin’s John Brady TD described the “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza as an Israeli form of “collective punishment” and he accused the pro-Israel speakers at the committee of “not expressing remorse” for the loss of life. 

Some of the most trenchant criticism of Israel came from People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett who addressed the speakers as “supporters of the Israeli project, state, or whatever it is”. 

“I am one of the people who think you’re a colonialist enterprise, that your state is a colonialist enterprise, that it is an apartheid state. Those years from its very beginning achieved its aims through the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. Something well documented,” he said. 

Boyd Barrett also referred to the controversial 2018 law in Israel which defined the country as the nation state of the Jewish people

“Surely, if you believe that Jew, Arab, Christian and people who have no religion, which I certainly do by the way, that they can and should live by side by side with equal rights, grant all those Palestinians and their descendants the right to return,” he said. 

Then your Orwellian narrative of trying to justify the continued annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory might have some credibility, but unless you actually confer equality in the law and the basic laws of the state, whether you call it Israel or Palestine, then it is a fact that your state is an apartheid state.

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shat Alan Shatter at this morning's committee. Source: Oireachtas.ie

Shatter told the committee meeting that he watched Tuesday’s hearing, which featured Palestinian Ambassador Dr. Abdalmajid, and that he found it “depressing as an observer” because “no hard questions were asked”.

“I think are no matter what side you’re on, and I don’t believe members of the Foreign Affairs Committee should be on any side other than Ireland’s side, but no matter what side you’re on, I think it beholds members of the committee to ask the hard questions, to tease out propositions that are presented before it,” he said. 

Shatter reserved particular criticism for the contributions of Brady and Boyd Barrett. 

“Ironically, the Sinn Féin that advocates for the self-determination of the Irish people is apparently entirely opposed to the self-determination of the Jewish people, and both Deputy Barrett and Deputy Brady strenuously seek to avoid the reality that the UN resolution of 1947 envisaged the creation of Israel as a Jewish state,” he said.

The one and only Jewish state in the world that has 52 Muslim states. And in a world in which many of those states exclude other religions and do not display the level of religious tolerance and understanding that applies in Israel.

Shatter went on to say that Sinn Féin “had learned nothing from the Peace Process” and claimed that the party’s stance on the conflict in the Middle East was “payback for the assistance given by the PLO and PFLP in the training of Provo terrorists throughout 1970s and 1980s who wrought murder and mayhem on the island of Ireland.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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